Olaudah Equiano was born in approximately 1745 in what is now Nigeria. He wrote an autobiography about his life, which recounts being kidnapped from Africa as a child and sold into slavery. He bought his freedom and became part of the abolition movement. Equiano’s account is considered an originator of the slave narrative. He died on March 3, 1797, in London.
Birthplace: present day Nigeria
An Igbo, Equiano was captured and sold into slavery as a child. He was
taken to the West Indies where his slave name became Gustavus, after a
16th century Swedish king. Taught to read and write, he was able to
purchase his own freedom. Equiano made his way to London, where he
worked briefly in a government office helping resettle blacks in Africa,
probably making him the first black British civil servant. In 1789, he
published his autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa the African,
which had a strong abolitionist message. Though some critics called it
propaganda, the book was a financial success. In 1792, Equiano married
an Englishwoman, Susanna Cullen. They had two daughters.
Died: c. 1800